SEEC approves supplemental grant for Fedele

The State Elections Enforcement Commission today unanimously approved a supplemental grant of $312,500 for Republican gubernatorial candidate Michael C. Fedele.

A federal appeals court has ruled that the supplemental grants, which are triggered by an opponent’s spending, are unconstitutional, but the court has not directed the SEEC to stop the grants.

The delay allows parties in the case to a seek a rehearing by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We keep operating with the law on the books until the court tells us what do next,” said Beth Rotman, the director of the commission’s public-financing unit, the Citizens’ Election Program.

The commission today also approved a supplemental grant of $6,500 for a legislative candidate, Roland J. Lemar, triggered by the spending of his opponent in a Democratic primary, Debra P. Hauser. They are running for the 96th House District seat held by Rep. Cameron C. Staples, D-New Haven, who is not seeking re-election.

The panel approved initial grants of $375,000 for two statewide Democratic candidates facing primaries: Kevin P. Lembo, a candidate for comptroller; and Mary Glassman, a candidate for lieutenant governor. Their primary opponents, Michael Jarjura and Nancy Wyman, also are publicly financed.

Jarjura’s campaign objected to the grant for Lembo, saying that some of his qualifying contributions raised while he was an exploratory candidate should be deemed ineligible. Even if the contested contributions are disallowed, Lembo still has exceeded the qualifying threshold of $75,000 in donations of no more than $100, the commission found.

George Jepsen, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, was awarded $750,000 for his general-election campaign. He has no Democratic opponent.

But most of the attention went to Fedele. The commission first met in executive session to discuss the litigation surrounding the Citizens’ Election Program in general and Fedele’s application in particular.

Fedele now has been approved for a maximum grant of $2.5 million for the primary: a basic grant of $1.25 million and $1.25 million in supplemental funds triggered by the spending of the GOP front runner, Tom Foley.

Foley has tried and failed four times in state and federal courts to stop the commission from granting public funds to Fedele.

“As chairman of this commission, I’m proud to say we’re 4 and 0,” said Stephen Cashman, the chairman.